There is a kind of frozen helplessness in our church conflict …

(Dave is actually intervening in a conflicted church this week, so I thought I’d pitch-hit with some older posts from  my personal blog. Hope you enjoy! Blessings—tkb)

There is so much wisdom in this brief book: The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller. The example I was reviewing today was written to a man who was in conflict with his church leaders and then, after another pastor was brought into the conflict to try to help (“Rob”), the man became conflicted with the new (trying-to-help-with-the-conflict) pastor too.

Please note: this excerpt is after a long, kind, gentle affirmation and assurance of deep love for the recipient of the letter. If Pastor Jack Miller was anything in life, he was an encourager. But this excerpt is such an insightful confrontation that I really wanted to share it with you (the emphases in bold are mine):

“You were so concerned about yourself that you hardly seemed to see or think of them as people as well. That was pretty cold, was it not?

… Please be in heart what you really are: a son of God and a brother to Rob.

So love as a son, think as a son, see these painful events as an exposing of all of our sins together by the Spirit of sonship as part of revival in the church and its world mission of the mid-1980’s. See Rob in a new light. He is a brother authority introduced to you by Christ. Christ is at work in him and through him; the King is on the move! We easily forget the moving of the kingdom in situations of conflict and think secularly, carnally, and not spiritually about such matters. Christ is not abandoning us, but breaking us down together … You need to learn from Rob and to expect Rob to learn from you.

Perhaps I felt the absence of this kingdom point of view in both of you as we talked and often wondered if either of you saw how serious was this vacuum of faith. Forgive me if I am wrong here. But was there a kind of frozen hopelessness in both of you? Am I wrong? Were either of you seeing the other with confident faith in Christ and His power to change? Or were you together looking at problems as though God and Christ did not exist or at least had no saving power?

This fact really troubled me …

I actually feel so desperately weak in such conflicts that I urge people who support me in prayer to constantly pray this for me—that I might get the revival point of view. That means a confident trust that nothing happens that is independent of my God of grace, the movement of His all-conquering kingdom. I also want to seek only the welfare of the one who has wronged me. In that process let God be true, but every man a liar. Let no one worry about his own vindication but only about the honor of God!”

About Tara Barthel

Tara Klena Barthel formerly served as the Director of the Institute for Christian Conciliation. As such, she oversaw hundreds of conciliation cases (including conflicted church interventions) through the international network of trained conciliators. Tara also provided oversight and leadership for all advanced conciliator training. Currently, she serves her family as a homemaker while occasionally accepting cases as a mediator, arbitrator, and conflicted church intervention team member. Currently enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary and pursuing her Master's Degree in Religion, Tara consults with businesses and ministries on the legal risk management issues attendant to conflict; designs and presents custom training on biblical conflict resolution for churches, missions agencies, and parachurch organizations; speaks frequently at women’s conferences and retreats; and is currently working on many new writing projects. Tara is the author of the Living the Gospel in Relationships video series and co-author of Peacemaking Women—Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict (Baker Books, 2005), and Redeeming Church Conflicts--Turning Crisis into Compassion and Care (Baker Books, 2012; second imprint Hendrickson Publishers 2016). Prior to moving to Billings, Montana to join the staff of Peacemaker Ministries, Tara worked as an attorney and business consultant in Chicago. Tara earned her law degree and M.B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and her B.A. in psychology from Augustana College (Illinois).
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